Morild's music is like a Danish summer night - magic, dramatic and flirtatious.
When the Dueholm sisters, Anne and Christine, were 9 and 14 years old respectively, they started playing music in public with their father, who played violin and piano, and their mother, who played electric bass. The little family band called themselves Duerne (The Doves), and they played locally for private functions, then music venues and festivals around Denmark and abroad. Anne played saxophone and Christine played the drums, and the repertoire was based on their father's favoured music, a popular mix of folk music and jazz. Christine recalls fondly their annual trips to southern Norway, where the family band were a hit at the little music festival known as Lillesands Days. "What happy memories I have of those days: summer, sun and masses of music," relates Christine. For 12 years in a row the family performed at this festival, giving the sisters a taste for the special Nordic tone that their father was so taken with.
Since leaving home, Anne and Christine have lived off their music, both studying at the Academy for Rhythmic Music in Copenhagen, and playing together and separately in a wide variety of musical contexts. They have played for children's theatre and school concerts, at jazz and folk music festivals, and toured extensively, giving concerts all over Europe and in China. At this time of writing, Anne is touring Denmark with the nationally renowned Danish singer and entertainer, Niels Hausgaard.
Today, almost 30 years after their first concert with their parents, Christine and her family have moved in to the family home in Gadbjerg in Jutland, and Anna lives 7 kilometres away in Jelling, the seat of the ancient kings of Jutland. The two sisters have celebrated ten years with their own band, Morild, blending Danish songs and medieval ballads with jazz improvisation. The band has released two critically acclaimed albums, both nominated for a Danish Music Award, and the third is on the way. A Danish journalist described Morild's music aptly: "..a Danish summer night, magic, dramatic and flirtatious."
The name Morild itself refers to a peculiarly Scandinavian light phenomenon, visible at sea or by the shore caused by a chemical reaction in some algae. Christine Dueholm explains: "My sister Anne and I started Morild around 10 years ago at the music conservatory. We students were asked to play some traditional music from our own land. We chose some of the songs we had sung daily as children at school. These songs mean a lot to us and we decided to interpret them entirely in our own manner. This proved to be an excellent approach to the music, and we developed the idea over the following years, with a succession of musicians in the band. My sister and I grew up with the family band, playing Celtic and Nordic folk music and swing jazz, and that has obviously influenced what we do in Morild.".
Today, Morild consists of Anne Dueholm on saxophone and vocals, Christine Dueholm on drums, her husband, Perry Stenbäck from Sweden on keyed harp, dobro and guitar, and Thomas Dons Finsrud from Norway on keyboards. These four musicians represent together three Scandinavian countries, and can thus draw on a vast common tradition, as well as their individual music cultures.
"Morild today plays what you might call Scandinavian folk music," says Christine, and continues: "My sister sings, so the basis is clearly Danish songs, but we are very inspired by Nordic folk music, and by jazz. We grew up with jazz, we have both played lots of jazz, and we improvise all the time, as well as composing. But I would still call what we do folk music". Christine's husband, Perry Stenbäck, one of the finest guitarists in Scandinavia, won a Danish Music Award as Danish Folk Instrumentalist of the Year in 2009. He sat in on this interview, and now has something to add:
"One of the reasons that playing with Morild is such fun is that Anne and Christine have been playing professionally since Anne was 9 and Christine 14. They have been appearing together for many, many years, which gives their music a unique, spontaneous, almost telepathic dimension. All Thomas, our pianist, and I have to do is lean into that musical communication, and we all take from there. Morild's music is a combination of passages arranged in great detail and others that are open and more improvised. We never know precisely where we will end up, as a rule it ends well, but there is always that element of risk that the whole thing will fall apart. That's what makes each concert exciting for us as well as for the audience."
Morild are busy recording their third album, and once again, the blend is new Nordic music, old Danish songs and ballads, and jazz improvisations. Christine: "Right now we are working on a Danish song from 1895 about the first day of spring, the day the sun comes out and the flowers burst into bloom, the day you have been waiting for all winter long. I think every Dane knows the song and the feeling. It's called Det er i dag et vejr, et solskinsvejr. (It's a Sunny Day Today).
Soon Morild are off on their third tour of China and they have offers from all over Europe. The other day, there was a call from Lillesands Days, the little Norwegian festival Anne and Christine performed at when they were children. Would the sisters care to bring Morild and their families to the festival and perform? The answer is yes!
Translation: Rod Sinclair
Photo Credits: (1)-(3) Morild (from website).